Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Can We ReBoot Relationships?

I was thinking about the “romantic gesture” in films, tv shows, novels etc. It tends to involve an airplane, a train, a boat, maybe a rocket ship depending on what we’re working with. And we, as an audience, tend to find it over-the-top, predictable, sappy etc.

But, maybe it makes a bit more sense after a second glance. Who usually makes a Dramatic Gesture? I can round up a couple films: As Good As It Gets, Something’s Gotta Give, The Way We Were. (Why do 2 of these involve Jack Nicholson? I’m watching a series of his films right now)
So who is it that always makes the dramatic gesture? Jack’s OCD character walks on the cracks in the sidewalks and touches the dirty doorknobs to get to Helen Hunt when before he wouldn’t leave off polishing his silverware just to acknowledge her existence, he wouldn’t look up from watching the lines in the sidewalk to look out for obstacles in Helen’s way. He travels to Paris for Diane Keeton on her birthday when before he wouldn’t walk from his bedroom to her’s, in the same house, to sleep beside her.
The people who would not, could not, for the longest time just make all the small efforts—the small, nondramatic gestures—those are the people that make the big ones. They have to add up all the little gestures they missed out on, and try and calculate some gesture of equal worth.
I’ve received a few dramatic gestures, I suppose.
A guy who my mother made no effort to hide her dislike for, came to my home with a giant bouquet of flowers when he knew my mother was home, would open the door, and knew allll about what this guy was coming to apologize for. He waited in the kitchen with my mother, her silence and her judging eyes until I was ready to come speak to him. Up until then, he had made a point of staying away from my home.

Well...he didn't look Quite like this.

Another guy drove two hours to see me after I left him because he wouldn’t drive twenty minutes to see me before. He always had me coming to his place.
Sure, these are not as creative, not as romantic of gestures or as full of querks as those in the movies, but they were made up of all the little gestures I didn’t get before.
Unfortunately, in my experience, this was not sustainable. It is simply an event provoking an event. I leave the guy, and in the emotion of that event, he buys the flowers, he gets in that car. But, let’s face it—I am still the same girl when all the hype is over. I am still the same girl who didn’t, for whatever reason, stir up in them the impulse to do the little gestures. The emotion which lead to the big gesture was not a regular one, so the gesture won’t be regular either. And the truth is, even if I did get flowers every day--that's not what I need. I need someone who can enhance my life a little bit every day.
Whether the guy thinks there is a chart somewhere on which i put a gold star everytime he makes grand gesture, and just looking at that star holds me over for a good month, or, whether he just doesnt think of it at all--i've always found, he falls back into his old ways.
It’s just like giving a slow computer a reboot. Every once in a while, you get so fed up with it to the point you shut it down and then—BAM—it comes back at full speed. And….within a week, you are smacking it again trying to get it to just do the simplest thing!
I don’t need a grand gesture every couple of months. I need the little, decent, seemingly plain and boring gestures that can take place every day.
How sustainable are grand gestures, really? Do we have any good Grand Gesture stories out there?


  1. You bet we do! We all need the gestures don't we, large and small, cos that's what relationships are made of aren't they? Compromise is a relationship gesture and so vital for a good working realtionship.
    Big gestures? had a guy fly round the world for me once in my younger days and so has my daughter more recently.She had a huge bunch of red roses from a guy she knocked back.Here one and only makes the gestures all the time--flowers, chocolates, shoulder to cry on, he's a treasure.

  2. I know what you're saying about grand gestures vs everyday little gestures, but it seems sometimes grand gestures make up for the gestures that sometimes we take for granted. A simple "how are you" sometimes doesn't seem like enough for some people, when to me, when someone I love asks me that, my face actually lights up and I'm like "wow, he cares" because I've been with so many people that forget the "how are you? how was your class" and It's like "Whoa you remembered that exam" and it's something I've learned not to take for granted after all the crap I've dealt with. Sometimes, grand gestures are made to show that sometimes we make mistakes and we're willing to go all out to prove how much we care. Sometimes, it's not enough, but sometimes it is. If the person just makes a grand gesture and then goes back to acting the way they were before, it happens. I think its human nature though. It's really hard to keep something consistent, especially if its a personality trait, and if you can accept that they care, but have a personality trait that they cant change, then hey things can work out, but sometimes its about patience too.

  3. I think romance films ruin our love lives. In my youth I loved watching "Gone With the Wind" again and again and again...and I always hoped to meet a Rhett Butler who would sweep me off my feet and kiss me like a man. Unfortunately movies set such high expectations. They make us feel that sex should be perfect and that someone who is meant to be with us should know just what to do without us needing to show them. But perfect relationships are unrealistic and we should not be influenced by media portrayals.

    Now regarding grandiose gestures...I've had a few of these in my hey day (eg men crashing cars just cause they were admiring me and others throwing their money around with tantalising offers of holidays and gifts to impress me). But you see, these things were not done in relationships that were long-lasting as sustenance does not require pointless benevolent gestures but quiet actions according to our real needs. Still, which woman doesn't like having her vanity reinforced?

  4. Nice metaphor: 'ReBoot a relationship'? Well, you can if you have remembered to keep the CD. But sometimes it's not worth the bother - why not go in for the 'upgrade'? I sometimes think that a relationships has a natural life and there is only so much you can do before you admit defeat and switch off the life-support system. I am not being cynical... that - perhaps sadly - is just the way it is. And I am a Romantic! You might not think so, but I am. I am always looking for the 'ideal'. I believe in Love - I cannot think of anything more worthwhile, in this life.